Since people of the world started trading with each other, the number one activity and action that would drive future success was gaining new business from the word of mouth of others.
Despite all the modern marketing methods and new lead generation strategies it is still the creation of referrals from your network that brings you the biggest, quickest and most authentic return on your marketing investment.
I know that you would LOVE to have an endless stream of referred clients and would do anything to make this happen. Yet for the majority of business owners and sales professionals there is just one HUGE reason why they fail to gain the referrals they deserve.
They simply do not ask their existing contacts to open the doors into their contacts.
What could be stopping you from asking?
For me it comes down to one of the following 3 things:
- You’re too LAZY, bone idle and cannot be bothered…
- You don’t know WHEN to ask …
- You don’t know HOW to ask…
My guess is that option 1 does not apply to you – because if it did then you would not be reading this article. Therefore – if you knew the answer to the other 2 questions then you could probably ask more often.
Timing is everything and for many, the fear of finding the exact right moment to introduce an idea is the primary reason that stops the idea being mentioned. In my work I am renowned for helping others to know exactly what to say, when to say it and how to make it count. Let’s see if today we can help you understand how this relates perfectly to referrals.
When is the right time to ask?
The short answer to this is at the point that your prospect or client is happy. The difficulty in this answer is that there are literally dozens of examples where this could be the case. At the point of sale, the delivery, at a success milestone or even at the point of resolving a complaint, to name but a few. This abundance of opportunity creates a chaos of confusion and typically results in an inability to ask the key question of the other person.
The better answer is to set the small antennae on the side of your head (AKA ears) to listen out for one simple phrase. This phrase is a coherent clue to the fact that the other person is not only happy with what you have done for them, but also in that precise moment feels indebted to your actions to a point they may even feel like they owe you. There is no better time to ask for something than when the other person feels indebted.
The words you must listen for are the words…
When you receive this sign of appreciation please do not pat yourself on the back and think “I’ve done a wonderful job”. Understand instead that this is your perfect moment to ask for more.
Now that you understand the precise timing for the request we should probably explore a structured and powerful way of asking…
How to ask for referrals
The subconscious brain is a powerful thing. Particularly in the sales process. Why? Because it works a little bit like a computer. There is only “Yes” or “No”. There is no “Maybe”. Having the ability to trigger instant decision from your client or prospect delivers you a fair advantage in communication and can often allow you to get your own way more often.
The subconscious cannot stop itself from working. It’s like our human autopilot. When you drive to a familiar destination, you don’t always remember the journey between getting in the car and out of it again. That was the subconscious brain taking over.
To lead you into this precise set of word choices you must learn the power of a simple set of “Magic Words” that can be used to get people to agree to an action before they even know what the action is.
So they have said “Thank you”. And this provides your cue to ask your first question.
“You couldn’t do me a small favour could you?”
This simple question gains an almost certain agreeable response and gives you instant permission to continue with the rest of your request.
You can then go on to say:
“You wouldn’t happen to know…
(This throws down a challenge, which makes people want to prove you wrong)
“…just one person…”
(Just one because it’s reasonable and seems a simple ask they’re more likely to think of someone by name)
“…someone who just like you…”
(Has the person narrowing down the options and gives you more of the right prospects plus pays a subtle compliment)
“…would benefit from…”
And then emphasise the specific benefit or positive experience they have just thanked you for.
When they have thought of somebody you need to know where to go next. You will probably see in their body language and movement when they have thought of somebody.
At this point you say:
“Don’t worry. I’m not looking for their details right now, but who was it that you’re thinking of?”
This automatically takes the pressure off and the “but” helps them to only recall the final part of the sentence.
Find out then when they’re next likely to see the person they are thinking of.
“You couldn’t do me a further favour could you? (I mean they said “Yes” the first time) Next time you see Steve could you share with him a little bit about how it was doing business with me and see if he’s perhaps open minded to taking a phone call from me to see if I can help him in the same way I helped you?”
Your prospect will almost certainly agree.
“Would it be ok if I give you a call next week and find out how the chat went with Steve?”
They will most likely, again, be agreeable.
You then call him when you said you would and ask:
“I’m guessing you didn’t get around to speaking to Steve?”
As a person of their word they will either proudly say how they have spoken to Steve, or will be embarrassed and tell you how they will go on to complete the introduction.
The magic in this process is that if you slow the process down you can often speed the outcome up.
It provides you with qualified future customers who already have third party experience of your offerings and permission to make contact. I would take that over a name and a number any day of the week.
Want to see me explain this process in more detail? Then watch the video below.